Having introduced Arthur (ages 8) and Charles (aged 6) to my life long passion, Rollercoasters, we decided to take them to Efteling in Summer 2018 with my partner and their mother as it has a great line-up for kids around the 1.2m-1.3m height mark, and it’s such a magic park that I had only ever attended before in winter. It also technically has a new cred, although that’s definitely up for debate.
Firstly, Efteling is such an easy park to get to from Amsterdam via public transport. We arrived late into their on-site accomodation Bosrijk but it was fine and the staff did everything they could to get us in quickly. The place is magic, a perfect little cottage deep in a forest, as rustic as can be but with all the modern features and stupid free hats. I’ve yet to come across better theme park accommodation to be honest. If you ever stay here, avoid the hotel and stay at Bosrijk if you can.
After a decent enough sleep we headed in, the boys were desperate to ride the biggest coaster possible so straight to the back of the park we went. The big steel monstrosity of Python drew them in but with the new ticketing queue system we booked our time in and headed for its wooden neighbour, Joris en de Draak their dueling GCI coaster.
Joris en de Draak
I LOVE this thing. It was my first GCI coaster and despite technically being a family coaster it falls under my “I cannot marathon this thing’. Maybe it’s my size, but I always get bruises (good bruises) and feel completely rattled. Needless to say Charles adored it so much he made me ride it alot without getting off (he was in the height range that required an adult present…).
It’s paced so well, it’s just relentless and the duelling adds such a great layer of fun. That first corner off the lift picks up way more speed than it should, then the air-time hills where you can flip the bird and your neighbouring train while out of your seat before hitting the section where EVERYTHING is a corner and an airtime pop all in one.
The presentation has to be mentioned too, it has a stella soundtrack, and a huge fire breathing dragon in the middle of the layout. The story is a little hard to grasp if dutch isn’t your native tongue, I’m guessing it’s a two teams racing to defeat the dragon (Fire and Water).
VERDICT: Alot of fun here, if you don’t mind being thrown around abit, it’s my fav GCI but it doesn’t quite break the barrier from family to thrill.
After the boys complaining that Joris wasn’t scary and having their minds very much fixated on Python it was time to go over a ride the thing (after a little pirate ship ride).
Now I have ridden Python before, but since then most of the track (and supports) have been completely demolished a replaced in the closed season. I’ve never seen a park so much effort into restoring a ride that has a layout that was only popular maybe 30 years ago. In fact I was a little pissed that the money wasn’t going into getting rid of the thing and building a huge new attraction there and the nearby field. But here we are.
Ok, so the presentation does not match it’s neighbours, it’s an outdated layout, I was ready to carry on the hate, but the moment that train glided onto the new track I was won over. Is this a B&M? Where are the weird lateral forces? By the time I hit the brakes I was questioning why Alton Towers didn’t do the same to their old Corkscrew? Even the weird final helix felt right. They fixed everything! and the boys were buzzing (their first upside down coaster).
VERDICT: I cannot forgive the lack of presentation on this ride in such a beautiful park, but I have to commend Efteling for making an old head banger into a smooth re-ridable family thrill.
We managed to sneak on a couple more rides (it’s a silly queue system) before going off to do Baron 1898 with Kris. This is the only 1.4m ride which I know was a large cause for concern when it was announced, and to be honest, Now I was visited with kids, it was upsetting that we had to leave them out of this one.
I’m a big B&M fan, nothing excites me more than seeing that chunky spine on a new credit they all look so sexy and this coaster is STUNNING. Made to look like a romanticised victorian mine shaft, it towers over the lake in this gorgeous deep teal with gold accents and a ghostly mist bellows out of the tunnel. Every single aspect of this ride has been carefully put together, from the building and area details, to the way the shaft wheels turn in-time with the trains.
The experience starts with a gorgeous pre-show explaining (in english and dutch) that you are hired to mine for the Baron. It’s a great mix of project mapping, music, physical sets and animatronics. The only problem I would say is that it feels a little long when you re-ride. I love the batching gates though that don’t let you see any of the station until it is your turn, it is again full of detail and atmosphere.
All this story telling follows you into the pre-lift that warns you (as I am told) that “Pride comes before a fall”. I really like that as it fits the entire story of the ride and is delivered just before you speed up the lift.
Once at the top the mine shaft bell rings, and you hang over the drop before plummeting into the misty hole and out upside down into an immelman loop. After that, a zero-g and helix before moving round towards the brakes… annnnd that’s it. In terms of a coaster it’s short which I could say about most dive coasters but something about the drop being so short and tame seems to just make the ride experience lack. And once the preshow has began to get stale from re-rides the whole experience feels like it misses the mark slightly.
VERDICT: A really really beautiful comfortable ride that tries so hard to straddle both family and thrill that it fails to be exceptional at either.
The rest of the trip is a little blurry to be honest, after a few wines and snacks and the park was incredibly busy due to it being the height of summer. We eventually managed to got ride on the parks dark ride/rollercoaster/water ride combo.
I’m never sure how to review this ride as a coaster as it doubles up as a dark ride and a water ride. One thing is does better than all the other coasters is tell a story. Similar to alot of fairy tales in the park’s fairytale forest, it tells a story of how behaving in a certain way will result in your downfall, and also similar to Baron it focuses on the greed of a captain.
The station and dark section of the ride leaves you feeling like your out as sea at night and it does it so so so well. The smell and breeze of the sea when your out there in the mist is one of the most immersive theme park experinces I’ve come across, you really leave the park behind you. Following that you get a terrifying encounter with the ghost ship (the boy’s didn’t get scared though obviously).
Once you climb the lift in the finale of the dark section you plumet out above the pathway below and swoop into a weird semi-uneventful coaster section round the back. Then the water ride section comes and you splash back down into the lake. If I judge the ride as individual points the ride kinda of falls apart. As great as the darksection is it’s rather short and when it gets good you’re out. The coaster section is pretty minimal and uneventful, and then the water ride section is pretty standard for a water ride. But if I think of it as an entire experience it’s really great, original and memorable.
VERDICT: An odd one to judge, it’s abit of a crap coaster, and the dark ride finishes just as it gets good, but it’s so bloody immersive, and a great attraction for all the family.
Seeing as the park’s Intamin Bobsleigh, Bob, was unavailable we just had one more coaster left.
Down towards the back of the park is their dark rollercoaster. It’s in an area that feels incredibly mashed up, next to the bizarre dark ride Festival Carnival and some weird cannibal theme spinning ride. Vogel Rok is just as mis-matched as the rides around it with a huge bird towering over the entrance. By this point the queue was way out from under the bird, but it gave us a chance to see the queue theming which mainly consisted of rocks and eggs.
I’m not sure I get the theme or maybe I’m looking far too much into this. It’s called “Bird Rock” and it’s full of rocks and bird references… Is it that simple? Anyway, it is presented fairly well in the queueline was a lovely theme. The ride itself has some speed and force but it’s mainly just an average dark coaster with a couple of flashes of bird with an on-board soundtrack
VERDIT: It’s not a bad family coaster, but I’m not entirely sure what it’s trying to do. There might be a story behind it? but who knows. The boys were underwhelmed by the whole experience and I can kinda see why when compared to the other attractions in the park.
This really is a magic park and perfect for families. It’s relaxed atmosphere makes for a nice break away, especially if you’re staying in Bosrijk. Some of my best memories from the park are from chilling with wine in the forest, or seeing the boys try their first looping coaster. If you want breath taking thrills, this really isn’t the right park for you, but I can guarantee that whoever you are, it’ll hard not be be bowled over by the magic and charm.